10 Things I Think about the San Silvestre Chipiona
Chipiona is a small seaside village about 100km south of Seville, think a hot Youghal. According to John's old book it has a tall lighthouse. We didn't see any lighthouse.
2. Race Registration
Race registration was a difficult process, welcome to Spain. Information on the race was confined to a single picture on the Sevillian equivalent of the corkrunning blog. We managed to enter on line for €7 which included a race T-shirt. Michael managed to enter a different race in a similarly named town. Thankfully I had also emailed the race organiser who entered us again so we had duplicate entries. Michael Herlihy was Donal Coakley for the night. The Spaniards saw nothing suspicious in this.
3. Juvenile Races
When we arrived, juvenile road races were taking place on the finishing straight of the road race route. Great to see kids racing before the adults. A lot more enjoyable for the kids than being forced to run through muck and potholes in a field in West Kerry.
Our €7 entry fee included a free t-shirt. I asked for a medium, I got a large. If you asked for a small you also got a large. This is called being "spained". T-shirts came in many colours.
I'm sure the sevillerunning blog is alive with posts about the t-shirts.
5. Start Time
To avoid the likelihood of being "spained" by the race starting early (or late) we asked two local runners what time the race started. 620 we were told, it started at 615 exactly as advertised. Welcome to Spain. Thankfully we ignored the advice and got to the start well in advance.
Over 400 runners lined up on the start, at least 390 of them looked like they were capable of running a 4 minute mile. Even the masters athletes looked fast. There was even a guy who looked more Irish than us, think Canelo Alvarez, red-red hair. The gun went at precisely 615 just as the sun was setting, off the Spaniards sprinted at about 4 minute mile pace.
7. 1st Mile
The start was stupidly fast, Michael got to the front ahead of all the Spaniards, I don't think they thought he'd last. After a minute or two they sat back in a group shouting "tranquillo, tranquillo". Michael didn't listen and continued to clip along at 5 minute miles. Conor and John ran along in the tranquillo group at about 5:20 mile pace. I hung on as best I could.
8. The Course
The race was advertised as 6.2km. It was around that, this being Spain, flat as a pancake right through the narrow walled streets of Chipiona. We had to turn around a traffic cone at one stage but other than that it was fantastic. Really atmospheric, it started in fading sunlight and finished in the dark. Take note Irish road races.
9. The Finish
Michael finished well clear of the chasing pack of spaniards to take become the champione of Chipiona in a new course record. I just pipped John in a dramatic sprint finish, John pleaded that he thought we'd to do another lap, however John didn't realise that Spain is a jungle and he'd just been spained.
10. Prize Giving
The awards ceremony was just as drawn out as back home, the juveniles were presented with their trophies first which meant a good long wait for Mike, the new hero of Chipiona. There were no tea and sandwiches, just roasted chestnuts. The only way of letting the spaniards know where we were from was to make a walking action and say Robert Heffernan, then they'd nod approvingly. Spain, what a place.